What Causes Baby Hiccups?

Baby hiccups are incredibly common. While newborn hiccups, as well as hiccups in older babies, aren’t cause for concern, there are ways to get rid of baby hiccups and give your child some relief. Keep reading for everything you need to know about newborn baby hiccups.

Why do babies get hiccups?

Baby hiccups are caused by the same thing that causes hiccups in adults. A baby’s diaphragm, which is still developing, spasms and results in an upset as they breathe. Although it is still largely unknown as to why hiccups occur, it is believed that baby hiccups can be triggered by a variety of things.

1. The child has eaten too much

A baby’s stomach is very small, so there is only so much food that can fill it. When the baby has overeaten, for example, the stomach becomes distended and results in pressure on the diaphragm. The diaphragm spasms, and the baby gets hiccups. Baby hiccups are also extremely common while the child is feeding or after the baby has eaten.

2. Baby is swallowing air

Newborns can swallow too much air while breastfeeding, if they have an improper latch

3. Sudden temperature changes in the stomach

For example, if you fed the baby something cold and then later something hot, it could trigger baby hiccups.

4. Gastroesophageal reflux

This is a condition in which partly digested food and acid from the stomach come back up into the esophagus, causing your baby burning and discomfort. It can lead to a bout of hiccups that can seem intense. However, it is very common and can be easily treated. If you notice your baby crying more frequently, arching his or her back during or after feedings and spitting up more often, speak to your pediatrician.

What’s the best way to get rid of baby hiccups?

Although baby hiccups are common and generally harmless, it’s normal to want to get rid of newborn hiccups so your baby feels better. Doing so will bring your child a good deal of relief.

During breastfeeding:

  • Burp your baby before switching him from one breast to another
  • Ensure baby’s lips are sealed over the areola and not just the nipple, so he’s not swallowing too much air

If bottle feeding:

  • Stop when the bottle is halfway consumed and burp your baby
  • Take a break for 5 to 10 minutes and resume the feeding
  • Position the bottle so that the air is at the bottom instead of up by the nipple

If you rely on a combination of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, sit your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after feedings. Additionally, you can rock your infant or rub his back to help ease hiccups.

The next time your baby has hiccups, you don’t have to be alarmed. Knowing that it’s normal and how to stop the hiccups can bring you and your baby much-needed relief.

Photo: Getty